slouchwear revisited

Those of you who have been following my adventures in stitch, will be aware of my deep seated desire to make loungewear I would happily answer the door in. And whilst I have no desire to be anything other than a 6 ‘o’ clock pyjama wearing semi-hermit, I’m keen to expand my choice of evening attire.

There have been some tentative forays with varying degrees of success:

It’s only when I booked on a couple of workshops with the queen of knits herself, that I felt the door to this secret club swing open for me. The Roewood from A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts and T-shirt from The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking are not my usual style of skin tight top and a-line shape silhouette. But I signed up regardless, as I was keen to glean any wisdoms I could from someone who held the key to my slouchwear aspirations. And I’m happy to say, with my knit game strengthened and both items in regular circulation, the investment more than paid off.

On reflection, one of my main stumbling blocks was treating knits in the same way as I do a wovens and by that I mean shoddily and with a distinct lack of respect. I live in a tiny one bedroomed flat and my living room is my every room. I’ve got by cutting denim and craft cottons on my carpeted floor but I’ve finally woken up to the fact I’m going to have to find an alternative surface for knits.

I’ve also grappled with curling edges in an attempt to find those elusive selvedges – spray starching and ironing them out of shape. I recently learnt that most knits are constructed in the round and that when cut and glued, the selvedges might not even be true. Finding the grain line is as easy as following a couple of ribs in the fabric and pinning them straight. And my enduring struggle to find the right side of the fabric has disappeared in the knowledge that the selvedge rolls to the wrong side and a cut edge rolls to the right.

With my new found confidence, I finally felt equipped to cut into this medium weight french terry I picked up from Dots n Stripes a few months ago. I was fortunate enough to meet the shop owner at a stitch show in Manchester and she kindly helped me choose a navy single jersey for the contrast sleeves and bands. Both materials are cotton in composition with an elastane content of 5 and 8% respectively.

For my first Linden I cut on a on 10 based on my waist and hip measurement and this was way too big, so I sized down to a 4 grading out to a 6 at the hip. This time I cut on a straight 4 and the only alteration to the pattern was to take 5cm off the length at the shorten/lengthen lines. And you know what, I can’t quite believe I’m writing this but it came together LIKE A DREAM. So much so that I’m now in an obsessive loop, contemplating which knit project I’m going to dive into next.

I cut the material out on a table, not the floor and I can’t emphasise enough how key this was to my success. I also used my now beloved walking foot and machine basted every seam before overlocking. I couldn’t bear to bring a knife anywhere near the neckline, so to finish this seam I used the mock overlock stretch stitch H on my Janome Sewist and – after seeking Wendy’s advice – top stitched around with a regular straight stitch. The result has surpassed all expectations and I now own half of the slouchwear outfit of my dreams. Coming up with the goods for the bottom half will be no easy challenge but I’m in this comfort seeking game for the long haul.


what a feeling …

Ever since I saw the film and heard the anthem, I’ve lusted after the slouchwear aesthetic so artfully channelled by Flashdance’s Alex. The type of clothing that allows you to break into a run or slide into a yoga pose at a moment’s notice. So many life goals encapsulated – her style, her single pointed ambition, her flat, her welding skills.

I saw the pattern for this sports luxe sweatshirt in a recent issue of Simply Sewing magazine and I knew this was as close as I was going to get to living out a childhood fantasy. Not only that, it also looked like a super quick win – with only one pattern piece what could go wrong? Surprisingly, quite a lot if you decide to dispense with reading the instructions and let your intuition guide you.

The back is one piece cut on the fold, whereas the front is two pieces sewed together to enable some top stitchery. You’ll notice my front and back both have seams which wasn’t intentional – it’s because I cut them out before realising I should have folded the straight edge of the back pattern piece over 1cm before pinning it to the fabric. At this point, I’d like to point out the lack of top stitching was a considered choice. I figured the colours and contours made enough of an impact without bringing anything else to the party.

I cut the pattern on a size 14-16 based on my bust size which produced a voluminosity which did my frame no favours. Paring the underarm and waist seam to the lowest size and taking the sleeve length down one size, brought the shaping I was looking for. I overlocked the shoulder seams together and serged the front and back central panels individually before seaming with a narrow zig zag (0.5 width, 2.5 length).

My desire to clean finish my insides tripped me up on the side seams. Read the instructions here and you’ll get the result I achieved second time around when I slimmed down to a size 6-8. Here are some of the details of which I’m quite rightfully proud. Lining up the the central seam with the waistband join was a moment to savour … until I realised that shifting the joins to the side seams would have been the calling card of a seasoned sewer. Ah well – I pulled it off, so I’ll let my central lines sing.

I’m learning not to pay too much attention to the recommended band sizing as it’s all about your threads and how they work together. For the body, I sourced this French Terry Brushed Teal from Dragonfly Fabrics and teamed it with some green ribbing. The 75% differential suggested resulted in visual pollution of the highest order so I experimented a little, until I achieved the look I was after with a waistband 8cm smaller than the circumference. The neckband is reduced by 5cm and next time I’d probably shave off another cm or two for a bit more traction.

I could tell you how my second dry month of the year is going but that would eat into some valuable sewing time. What I will say is that not drinking has bought me shed loads of time which I’m itching to fill. So I’ll leave you with some pictures taken at my fella’s house this morning, living the dream in my sunday slouchwear.